I kept my anonymity because as a current Cadet, it's unprofessional to talk about this stuff. I picked the moniker "Cadet X," because whenever we hear an honor case- it always involves a "Cadet X and/or Cadet Y/Z," I thought it was a clever name for a random Cadet giving his opinion of the Code.
I don't think you've read all of my comments-- or even most of my last comment. I'm not "fervently" defending the Code- it's pretty ridiculous how some people think you can simply "teach honor." There are a lot of people up here drinking that Kool-Aid.
My questions simply related to the validility of two things:
1) The DIT test- I've let to hear one single response to how this is possibly a credible "moral test." Please Ctrl+F my comments if you want more background on my stance.
2) The "randomness" of this survey. I think an insane amount of recall bias went into this. I think the Honor Code always has been the way it is. The only difference was the brainwashing used to be a little stronger.
I've never lied, cheated, or stolen while at the Academy. In fact, I've only cheated once in my life- Biology in 10th grade- I scored worse on the test I cheated on than the ones I didn't. I stole around $100 from my dad when I was around 9-10, and I stole $10 in quarters from my grandma when I was 6- there's likely a few other small ones, but those are the ones I remember and feel guilt for. My father knew I stole the money, and never told me until 3-4 years later- he figured I'd learn on my own. I likely told a few intentional lies in high school, but other than dating/friendship white lies- I can't remember any. I'm a horrible liar which isn't a bad thing, but it makes me a bad bluffer at poker!
One thing I did in high school is let some people at risk of failing cheat off me in high school because I didn't want to see them fail out. I'm from a poor rural community and if you fail out of hs, it's off to drug dealing or menial farm labor for the rest of your life. What's the "right" answer on the DIT test on this one? Obviously it's let them fail out. At the Academy, it makes sense because you don't want substandard people in the military, but in our nation's feeder system of public schools... but I digress.
If you include white lies, etc, then yes it's impossible, and yes I've "lied." But if by lie you mean attempting to deceive to achieve any sort of gainful motive, then no - I haven't done that. By your definition of "lie" the entire Honor Code is a joke- obviously that's not the intention of the Code, nor what it means to break it.
Honestly though in terms of the actual Code- I'd say roughly 50% of Cadets have committed an Honor violation- and about 95-99-- maybe even 100% have tolerated. They tolerate for a similar reason that I helped my friends in hs-- loyalty-- and ultimately utilitarianism. The only way to improve the reporting % is to either reduce the pilot slots to 100 (cut-throat mode) or allow anonymous reporting (fear of repercussion/ostracizing). Obviously the latter has a lot of moral hazard due to the competitive nature of some people, and alack of accountability. Some of the biggest Honor hawks are some of the most worthless Cadets around here. In fact most the the "best" Cadets here- I'm talking natural leadership ability, athletic competence, and academic prowess see the code as the following: "A great idea in theory, but a failure in practice."
I can't prove my MiT admission while posting under a moniker, so take that at face value. I also can't prove that I'm near the top of my class- or that I'm even a Cadet. Maybe I'm just a random troll...
The "problem" with the Academy being substandard (academically) is due to three main things:
1) collegiate recruiting
2) prep school in general
3) giving "bonus" admissions to minorities and relatives of grads
#3 occurs around the nation, so primarily #1/#2. #1 also occurs around the nation, but most of the Ivys don't succumb to it. Stanford is the rare exception.
However, I have several great friends who went to the P-School and who are near the top of my class and will do great in the Air Force. I also know several recruited athletes who would have earned admission regardless, and some who had no chance in hell without the "blue chip," but they are doing amazing.
If you find a Cadet who is NOT a relative of a grad, did not NEED minority bonus points, did not NEED recruiting bonus points, and was direct entry (not prep school). I firmly believe that you will find Harvard/Stanford/MIT level people and at the very minimum USC/Cal Tech/Notre Dame level. The "problem" is that this represents less than 1/3 the Wing. I also think it's a bit ridiculous to compare the academic "prowess" of the Cadet Wing as a whole to any ivy-league school-- The Academy has a completely different objective and the Admissions process is way different.
How many schools require a nomination, athletic achievements, high school leadership, etc. At the Academy, these things are more important to Admissions than GPA/ACT/SAT- or at least far more important than they would be at other schools.
Oh and by the way, if you really want to change a top leadership role, General Gould, Clark, or Born should not be your top concern- most of the "poisonous attitude" comes from the Ath. Dept. General Gould and General Clark will be done with their positions shortly (it's a 3-yr gig for Supt and General Clark has already been promoted to 2-star and is moving on). I have a feeling that General Born will be moving on shortly as well, and as much as we despise academics here sometimes, she's well respected and I see her as a genuinely nice person- I think the COIN stuff was taken way out of context, but I really don't know. I avoided that discussion on here earlier because I had nothing credible to say. I really have a lot of respect for General Clark though- I'm not sure where he lines up with any of this "Honor Codegate" stuff...
Thank you for your response- just to clarify, I never hurled any insults your way, but I did question the statistical significance and reliability/bias of your survey.
Instead of insulting my intelligence in statistics etc, how about you publicly release the data set so it can be analyzed beyond simply Prof. Mullin. Send it to the USAFA Math Department and the Econ Department- I'm sure they'd love to look at it. At the very least if you post the data set publicly, it will get more attention/analysis.
You mention "randomly sampled" in your comment, but not once is random used in the entire article. How did you achieve this randomness that you speak of? It was my impression that you contacted grads and asked them to participate in a survey. Did you randomly pick people to contact and received 100% yes responses? Some clarification here would be nice.
I don't have a personal problem with Dr. Mullin- he was my core economics teacher and I enjoyed the class- I had around a 98-99% in there. I just think that him being the sole (mentioned in article) mathematical expert to verify the data lacks credibility. This is similar to how Fox News polls have little credibility in politics due to bias- MSNBC biased on the other side, etc. Actually, that's an insult to Dr. Mullin, I shouldn't compare him to those two news networks that I KNOW are biased, but the perception is similar.
I'd like to help the honor system succeed too, in fact if you saw my intra-USAFA comments with classmates you'd see that I agree with a lot of your article- including the facts that many Cadets don't respect the code. However, I found this article extremely biased to one side- in addition to calling for the public release of your data (with personally identifiable information removed of course, but their USAFA squadrons would be useful), I would like to see you address two remaining issues:
1) How do you address "recall bias," and do you think this is relevant? See my initial comment for more information on my opinion (just a guess- obviously not scientific).
2) How is the subjective DIT test a true measure of character/integrity? It seems like there are several questions with no "right" answer unless you apply some sort of religious approach to it. I can see some "right" answers if you apply the letter of the law- but then again shooting escaping slaves (let alone slavery itself) was legal in the 1850s.
Thank you Sir, I'm glad to see you respond on here and I look forward to your response.
In response to True Grit: I find your comment very offensive. I was the Valedictorian from my class in Arizona and I received a full-ride scholarship to attend MiT. This was a NROTC $180k scholarship, which was super easy to get (50% acceptance rate for the general scholarship); however, if you look at MiT acceptance rates, that's not an easy school to get into.
Is MiT harder to get into than USAFA? Sure- but that doesn't mean that every (or even most) Cadets here were unqualified to get into the Ivys or equivalent. The USAFA application was WAY WAY more rigorous than my MiT application btw.
USAFA also has a prep-school feeder system that allows prior-enlisted, closely-qualified, and initially unqualified athletes a chance to enter the school. I don't know of hardly any top-rate schools that have anything similar to this- correct me if I'm wrong.
These Cadets (from the p-school side) are admitted based on athletic excellence and leadership excellence. At USAFA, there are "3 pillars," so it is natural that admissions would also reflect this.
Btw- I'm the "brainy" kid and my academic ranking is the lowest of the three- this isn't an academically "easy" school.
As a current Cadet, I have three main issues with the article:
1) Statistically significant sample? Te sample of 2600 Cadets over 50 years and 3 academies... Roughly 17 per class per Academy... Hardly statistically significant. Does he randomly pick say 17 members from each class and survey them? No- he asks for them to take a survey-- any survey with voluntary reponse/participation will be biased to one degree.
Here's my opinion on the bias:
The old-timers are more likely to say how "good it was back in the day." It's similar to the "uphill in snow both ways," only they will say all this stuff like "we loved the AF, and we were honorable, etc, etc" remember these are people 30-50+ years removed from the academy who are volunteering to participate.
The new guys are most likely disgruntled (I know a lot of my classmates feel that this system is out to get them, and the Firsties are in "scared/tight mode" for the next 41 days)- they graduated recently and the more controversial stuff is fresher in their minds. More likely to get negative volunteers IMO. If you surveyed all USAFA grads from '59-'12 on "how good is the Academy" I'm sure you'll see similar results.
2) Mullin is hardly a credible source- this article even said this (more or less)
3) What are the RIGHT answers to these questions? This is a totally subjective test! Are we using utilitarianism or deontism here? Is there a religious undertone, etc?
For example-- should the reporter bring up the 20-yr old shoplifting infraction? There's no right answer. The reporter should look at their motivations and judge whether or not the infraction is relevant? Was it a dumb teenage act and is the reporter simply drudging up garbage for the National Inquirer (or the CS Indy- haha)? I'd be torn here- guess I'm dishonorable.
Should the poor starving person steal from the rich hoarder to feed his family? No right answer here-- it's all cultural relativism. I would definitely steal the food to feed my family, no questions asked. "WRONG answer" Oops, I guess I'm dishonorable.
I've never broken the Honor Code. Have I tolerated? Good question, guess Malmstrom will find out if I ever get an invite to take the survey.
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